Author's Note: This short story is completely self-contained—you don't need to remember any of my other Teen Titans fanfics to understand what's happening. (Do I hear sighs of relief?)
Just Taking a Nap?
Raven thought she had already been half-awake, with her eyes still closed, for a couple of minutes before her brain really started sorting out the sensory impressions being reported in from the rest of her nervous system.
She wasn't lying down in her bed. She was sitting, more or less, on something cushioned—probably a couch—and leaning against something over on her left. Her left arm was extended behind whatever she was leaning against, pinned—not painfully—between that large object and what was presumably the back of the couch. There was some sort of smooth fabric in contact with the left side of her face.
None of that would have been very important, except that now that she paid attention—not yet daring to open her eyes—it felt and sounded as if the aforementioned large object had a pulse and was breathing. Normal body temperature, too. And although Raven's mental shields automatically went up and stayed up when she was unconscious—otherwise, she'd never get any sleep!—there was a certain masculine flavor to the psychic emanations seeping through from such close contact, so she knew that whoever was next to her, it wasn't Starfire or any other female.
That narrowed the field down to the billions of Earth's inhabitants who were . . . male. Some of whom were much likelier than others to be here in the Tower—Raven thought she was in the Tower, anyway. All sorts of awkward complications were possible, though, depending on just who she was leaning against.
Please don't let it be Robin, please don't let it be Robin, please don't let it be Robin . . . Starfire will kill me!
Well no, she wouldn't kill me kill me . . . but she might look and feel broken-hearted if she thought I was trying to steal her sweetie, or the other way around. That would be bad enough.
Raven had never let on that she knew exactly how Starfire had felt after catching Robin and Blackfire putting their hands on each other in the course of practicing hand-to-hand combat, but the emotions would have been impossible to miss.
But this problem wasn't likely to just go away of its own volition. At some point Raven would have to find out just how bad it was. She braced herself for the worst and opened her eyes . . . just a crack.
Lots of . . . black and purple?
Raven's head was resting on her friend's shoulder and her arm was behind his back. Both of them were still wearing their full uniforms, thank goodness. And Beast Boy was definitely still asleep—there was no way he'd be able to sit still and keep quiet for more than five seconds at a stretch at a time like this.
Raven relaxed . . . a little. This wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been, but it was still embarrassing. How on earth had they gotten into this ridiculous position in the first place?
Her memory was finally catching up. They'd been fighting the H.I.V.E. Five. They'd had most of the group on the ropes, and then Kyd Wykkyd had suddenly teleported in behind Beast Boy when the latter was in the form of a green coyote. Kid Wykkyd struck the coyote on the back of the neck just before Raven, in turn, had blindsided Wykkyd by dropping an already-unconscious Mammoth on him.
Then she had rushed over for a closer look at Beast Boy. A blow to the back of the neck could cripple or kill a human, much less a coyote! Hadn't happened, though—either Kyd Wykkyd had carefully used just enough force to knock the coyote out cold, or else Beast Boy had been very lucky. At any rate, he was unconscious in coyote-form. After Raven's mystic scan had confirmed there was no lasting damage requiring neurosurgery or the magical equivalent, she had picked up the coyote and carried it back to the Tower.
Just dumping a wounded teammate on his bed in his own room and then leaving him there seemed a tad callous, so Raven had gently set him down on one end of the couch in the main lounge and told the others she was volunteering to keep an eye on Beast Boy for awhile. She'd levitated a book in mid-air and read it for an hour or two. At some point she had rested a hand on the back of the coyote's furry little neck . . .
Then she must have dozed off. And Beast Boy must have unconsciously reverted back to his normal shape, once his body felt strong enough for that transformation. With the result that Raven now found herself leaning against Beast Boy's human form, which felt very different from casually touching some furry animal.
Okay, given that BB had been completely out of it at the time, she supposed she really couldn't blame this one on him. No one had forced Raven to sit down on the couch next to him and then to fall asleep herself. By the same token, nobody would stop her from getting up and walking away now that she was awake again.
On the other hand, any prolonged physical contact with a guy who wasn't trying to beat her up was a rare thing in her life, for various reasons. Now she found it felt . . . kinda . . . nice.
(Even though it was only Beast Boy, she hastily assured herself!)
The little grass stain could be incredibly annoying at times—but sometimes he . . . wasn't. And even when he teased her or kept unthinkingly disrupting her meditation with loud noises or otherwise did something incredibly stupid, such as sneaking into her room and then getting sucked through the magic mirror into the mental realm of Nevermore, she knew his intentions were good. Short-sighted and often self-centered, but still basically kind-hearted and affectionate. You couldn't fool an empath about that sort of thing when you had been living in the same building with her for the last couple of years . . .
(Terra, on the other hand, had sometimes grated on Raven's nerves something fierce during her brief tenure with the Titans, but not as much as would've been the case if she'd been bad to the bone. She'd been more . . . erratic and confused. What was Raven supposed to do, tell Robin to kick that cute little blond out on her ear because she had strange mood swings and was probably keeping secrets from the team? Robin most likely would have pointed out that more than one Titan would have to hit the road if those minor oddities became the litmus test. A certain sorceress, for instance . . .)
Nothing really bad was happening right now. Raven was still tired. It wasn't worth the trouble of getting up and walking down to her own room just so she could go right back to sleep, was it? (There was that old joke about the cluelessly over-conscientious nurse who had shaken the patient's shoulder while saying: "Wake up! It's time for your sleeping pill!")
Besides, it would be cruel to disturb Beast Boy too soon when he was still recuperating from a very tough fight. He wasn't being lazy; he had earned his rest fair and square. It wasn't like he was doing anything wrong—nor even noisy, which was a pleasant novelty. Raven didn't like it when other people woke her up early without a darn good excuse, so she really ought to practice what she preached, right? She supposed she could give BB a few more minutes before she risked disturbing him as she pulled away.
Thirty minutes, say.
Well . . . maybe sixty.
Two hours, and that's my final offer!
Of course, given that she didn't have a stopwatch handy and had already closed her eyes again now that she'd decided there was no emergency here, she might well drift back to sleep with Beast Boy as her pillow. In which case there was no telling just how long this absurd situation might drag on . . . what a frightening thought . . .
But if Raven were a gambling woman, she'd lay odds of five-to-one that something or someone would make a loud noise and interrupt them long before another one hundred twenty minutes had passed. All part of the exciting Teen Titans lifestyle, right? So there was nothing to worry about, she assured herself as her mind began to crawl back under the metaphorical covers . . .
Robin was the stealthiest member of the team, so he'd crept through the main lounge pulling out the plugs from computers, the wall-screen TV, the DVD player, the VCR, and various other items which might make disturbing noises. He'd also undone a few telephone jacks.
Meanwhile Cyborg had been in the room that served as their IT center, deactivating this and reprogramming that to make sure that any automated alarms would not sound in that lounge until further notice. That included the communicators carried by Raven and BB. They'd been put in "sleep mode" and would not sound if any other Titans communicators were used to send out general messages.
Now they believed they had the situation under control.
"Good call, Starfire," Robin said when the three conscious Titans convened on the ground floor. "They both deserve a little quiet time. If anything comes up in the next few hours, we'll either handle it without them or just send our regrets. But either way, the noise won't disturb our friends. After all, we're only human—loosely speaking," he added hastily, since Tamaraneans weren't exactly Homo Sapiens and Raven's genes were only fifty percent human—but Starfire just smiled reassuringly. Clearly she'd known what he meant!
"Friend Raven probably would not believe me if I told her how relaxed she looked when I noticed her and Friend Beast Boy sleeping together," Starfire said thoughtfully. "Do you think I should take a digital picture to prove it to her later?"
Cyborg coughed—or made some sort of odd noise which was suppressed by a hand over his mouth.
"Starfire," Robin said hastily, "take this from me. Never, ever suggest to anyone that what's happening in the main lounge right now constitutes a case of Raven and Beast Boy 'sleeping together.' It would only hurt their feelings and confuse any outsiders who were listening."
"But are they not together on the couch?"
"Yes, they are."
"And are they not sleeping?"
"Yes, they are."
"Then are they not sleeping together?"
"No, they are not."
Starfire gave Robin a long-suffering look. Although she was too polite to say this in so many words, he got the message anyway. She was obviously thinking: That makes no sense. Are you even listening to yourself?
"Look," Robin said, painfully aware that from a standpoint of strict literal interpretation his position seemed self-contradictory, "it's one of those tricky cultural nuances that your language-learning power doesn't know how to interpret. In this country, in this language, when we say that a guy and a girl are 'sleeping together,' in exactly those words, we aren't really talking about two people just happening to lose consciousness in the same place at the same time after an exhausting day. I admit that Raven and BB have done that much—but saying that they were 'sleeping together' would be misleading and offensive!"
"Then what are you talking about when you mention 'sleeping together'?" Starfire asked, not unreasonably.
Robin hesitated—and looked at Cyborg pleadingly. "A little help here?"
Cyborg ostentatiously made gestures implying he was washing his metal hands of the whole thing. "You're doing fine, buddy! Carry on!"
"Thank you so much," Robin said through gritted teeth. "It's nice to know that I have the full support of each of my friends when the going gets tough!"
Beast Boy's brain began to bestir itself. Something warm and soft was pressing against his right side. Smelled nice, too. In fact, it kinda smelled like . . . no, it couldn't be!
He finished waking up in a hurry and opened his eyes. He was seated on the big couch in the main lounge with Raven beside him, sound asleep, head nestled against his shoulder, and one arm behind him.
Beast Boy pinched his thigh with his free hand. Ouch! All right, he was (probably) really awake. He wasted a few minutes frantically trying to figure out how this possibly could have happened before deciding it didn't really matter right now. The past was past; it was his future he needed to worry about!
What was he supposed to do? If he tried to move away in a hurry, Raven's head would fall suddenly . . . and she'd wake up. If he reached over to carefully grab her head and shoulders and then shift her away from him, that would make sure Raven didn't hurt her neck when he moved away . . . but he had to figure it would still wake her up.
Either way, that would be bad!
It went without saying that if Raven woke up and found she was practically cuddling with Beast Boy, of all people . . . he was dead meat! He didn't know how it had happened. He was sure he hadn't tried to make it happen. But would that really matter if Raven got horribly embarrassed and started looking for a scapegoat in the heat of the moment?
Of course, he told himself, looking frantically for a bright side, it wasn't exactly painful to have a cute girl's head resting on his shoulder and all that sort of thing. Not that he had ever told Raven she looked awfully cute sometimes—he might be reckless, but he wasn't stone cold suicidal! But under other circumstances, he could have enjoyed this!
("Other circumstances" would be any which didn't include a feeling of impending doom, as if you were sitting atop a huge bomb with the timer ticking down and no way to defuse it or get out of the blast radius before it blew you to smithereens.)
Since moving in any significant way would surely trigger an explosion, Beast Boy finally decided the best thing he could do was to go back to sleep and let someone else (Raven, for instance) figure out how to handle this . . . later.
Ideally, Raven would wake up after he was obviously zonked out again.
Ideally, she wouldn't use her scary powers on a sleeping boy who wasn't actually doing anything at that moment.
Ideally, she'd then leave quietly instead of throwing a fit, working on the theory that he must've been unconscious the whole time and would never know she had done anything so vulnerable as dozing off and resting her head on his shoulder. (If she accidentally woke him up when she left, he'd do his best to remember to keep his eyes shut and pretend he was still out cold. It seemed polite.)
Ideally, none of the other Titans would have noticed anything—or if they had, they would somehow manage to keep their big mouths shut about it until enough time had passed that Raven might actually be able to see the funny side of this strange situation. (Say, in another fifty or sixty years?)
All these far-fetched "ideallys" added up to a Very Slim Chance of getting out of this unharmed—maybe not even yelled at?—but hey, it was the best plan he could come up with under the circumstances. He couldn't exactly shout for Cyborg and Robin and Starfire to please come offer friendly advice, could he?
How long will this awkward situation last, with one and then the other waking up, deciding not to rock the boat, and then going back to sleep? Beats me!
Now for a confession. This story was inspired by a vague memory of a Teen Titans fanfic I started to read on this site, a few years ago, but never finished. I would love to thank the author, if I could remember who he or she was!
As near as I can recall: Either the first or second chapter ended with the Titans in the T-Car, coming home to the Tower after an evening of doing something peaceful together. (I think they had gone out to dinner somewhere.) Around the time Cyborg parked the car, Beast Boy realized that Raven had fallen asleep on the way back, and was now leaning against him with her eyes closed, and he was sure to wake her up if he tried to climb out of the car. He was afraid to move because of the angry way he assumed she'd react if she found herself in that situation, sound asleep with her head resting against his body as if she actually liked him. He frantically explained the problem to the other Titans. I believe they weren't much help; they just got out of the car quietly, not wanting to provoke Raven by disturbing her, and Robin shook Beast Boy's hand and said sympathetically: "Well, it's been nice knowing you!" (That is not an exact quote, but I think that was the general idea.)
Here's the problem: That's as far as I ever got in the story, although I believe several more chapters had been posted and I wanted to read them. Something in real life must have cut my Internet browsing short that day. I didn't bookmark the story before I left the computer, and a day or two later, when I tried to find that story again . . . I couldn't remember the title, the author, or enough other details to let me find it with a Google search. (It doesn't help that "Teen Titans" must be one of the most crowded subcategories on this site!) I'm sure the story in question wasn't anything that had been updated recently (this was around early 2007), so I couldn't find it again just by skimming through the last few pages of updated entries in the Teen Titans category. I'm sure it was some much older fanfic, either long since completed or long since abandoned, which I had somehow stumbled across. I've never found it again. If anyone reading this note thinks they recognize that story from my description of the situation at the end of an early chapter, then please let me know what the title was, or who wrote it, or both! I can track it down from there, I'm sure!
Anyway, the other day I remembered that amusing situation. For the first time, I seriously considered writing something of my own with a similar premise. Although I went at it from a different direction. Before I knew it, I was typing out a description of what might be happening in Raven's mind if she were the first to awake in such an awkward situation while Beast Boy was still oblivious . . . and as you can see, the rest followed from there!